San Diego Comic-Con from a grouchy perspective

San Diego Comic-Con from a grouchy perspective

There’s little to legitimately complain about at San Diego Comic-Con. I mean, you’re one of the chosen few who get to attend the ‘Game of Lines’ to see who can survive the heat, the destruction of your feet and the smell of your neighbors baking their three-day-old body odor in the sweltering sun.

There are only a little more than 100,000 attendees in the world, annually who make the trek to the Con of all Cons. That may seem like more than a single city could handle and perhaps, in most cases, it would certainly be. So, with reservation and apology to all of the good (which we certainly cover in great detail) let’s look at the bad – or at least the “needs improvement” – aspect of San Diego Comic-Con.

Communication. It’s so difficult to expect a total understanding of what is going on from one side of the convention to the other, but to have no understanding is something completely different. Attendees from news sites, there to promote the event and hype fans who did not attend with the first photos from the floor, were turned away from their usual entry at Hall D and sent to another entryway. Once there, they were told to go outside the convention center to the dreaded Hall H, where a single member of security said, “Really? There’s no one even here to handle that. You should be at Hall D, where they let you in last year.”

Back to Hall D we all went. Demanding answers from someone who would actually have them, we were told there was no entry for press, after standing in line for more than an hour. That, of course, wasn’t true and we had the badge to prove it. The few dozen members of the press who hadn’t given up by this point were swept up to the back of the general preview night line, where we could go in once attendees had been taken. To the businesses who were hoping to have their presence promoted, I apologize. We gave up and left. If you were wondering why #SDCC wasn’t trending on Wednesday, it’s because the press was taking in an early dinner or enjoying the scenic view of the beauty behind the convention center.

The main issue I have with this is, it’s the same security company every year. They know the building. They know the entries almost as well as we do. Though it seemed to be, it wasn’t their first convention.

San Diego. It’s beautiful. It’s my second home. I love the city. It’s time the people of the city realize that the revenue that’s brought into the tiny section of Gaslamp that we bring every year is enough to finance a small country. When votes come up to expand and enhance the area used for this event, it would truly be a shame to lose that revenue to a city a short drive away in Anaheim. Attendees tip. Attendees spend. Attendees rent out rooms and houses, apartments and cars. We throw money around at your restaurants and we’re gone in less than a week. That’s a great deal for you. You put up with us for a few days, we help finance the 51 weeks per year we don’t get to enjoy the city.

The weather. What the heck, San Diego?! It’s supposed to be 72 degrees all year ‘round. We arrive at nearly 90 degrees and the vampires begin to burn, witches begin to melt and worst of all, nerds begin to sweat. I know nothing can be done, but Thor could have at least brought some overcast skies.

Promoting television and movies at SDCC directly reaches your target market, when done correctly.

Promoting television and movies at SDCC directly reaches your target market, when done correctly.

Will Arnett. I am the world’s biggest Arrested Development fan and there’s not a day that goes by when I haven’t quoted the show, even today. Syfy has done so much for the convention over the past couple of years, so it stood to reason that they would have a show presented on their network, with guests and attendees on hand to show the world what a great time we’re all having.

I’d heard from countless people, in person and online, that Arnett is difficult, so I’ve avoided actually encountering him in person over the years, because I didn’t want to think that way. We’ll leave it at this – Syfy needs to bring a different host next year. Fans that we spoke to, along with other members of the media, were adamant about his attitude toward the people he was there to promote. If it’s just a job to you to be there and you feel it’s beneath you, just say so. There are other venues that are better suited for someone who truly doesn’t want to be around fans. I can understand doing something you don’t want to do, or having a bad day. We all do.

Exclusives. I know that Mattel and Hasbro bring some cool stuff, but I’m begging them to have a set, determined schedule of what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. Don’t wait until preview night, when people are already in line for your products, to say “no professional badges and no press badges can be in line.” We have friends who were professionals who were in line and told they could not give you their money for your product. I understand capping the line, but do it early enough that people aren’t wasting their time, only to be turned away when you know well in advance that it can be done early. These people spend thousands of dollars to be there. Be respectful of their time and money.

I stopped collecting anything several years back. It was a habit that was expensive and addictive, but I understand the desire to do it. So I know one of the biggest complaints is that an item is said to be “SDCC Exclusive” and then the next week, we will see it available from your website for the same price. That’s truly a dirty thing to do to your customers and borders on deceptive advertising. You have a year before the next SDCC. Work on marketing issues, customer support and these issues I’ve mentioned, maybe?

SDCC’s relationship with movie companies and stars. Next year is D23 and fans already know that this means Disney will be bringing very little to the convention, particularly in relation to their movies, trailers and reveals. 20th Century FOX has already cut out and others are cutting back. This is THE fan event. This is your largest audience. This is participation and feedback. This is part of your job in promoting your film and getting it directly into the sight of your target audience! There has got to be a reasonable compromise. Convince your stars to shake a few of our dirty fan-hands on the floor, sign a few posters, spend a couple of thousand dollars on SWAG and play a commercial for your movie that you know will end up on Youtube for a million other people to see.

Leaked trailers should be your absolute best friend in the movie business. When fans think they’re the first to see something from your movie, imagine how much more willing they’ll be to drop $25 for a movie ticket and a bag of popcorn. By the way, $25 takes most of your fans 2 hours to earn. Respect those dirty hands you’re shaking, because if they’re waiting to meet you in 90 degree weather on concrete behind barricaded police gates while being shoved by other fans, they sure do respect yours. Thankfully, for the vast majority of celebrities, writers, producers and directors, they get it. They are humble, kind, funny and professional. For them, thank you! You’re the reason we love movies and television. We’ll support your career through thick and thin.

Fan interactive zones are popping up offsite from great networks, like FX.

Fan interactive zones are popping up offsite from great networks, like FX.

The overall experience is everything you dream it will be. Now, with the offsite attractions, it’s even better. Again, there is little to complain about. It’s exceptionally well done. The amount of work that goes into an event of this size is amazing. The surprises, the police department’s ability to handle crowds courteously and professionally, the cleanliness of the building and the convention property. It’s a community that amazes me. The respect I have for what they do at San Diego Comic-Con, International, along with the countless companies and individuals who work to bring the best they have to offer to the table, is what makes me start saving my money tomorrow for the next year.

So, these aren’t really complaints, I suppose. Mainly observations that will neither make-nor-break my love for the con. If none of my suggestions take place, it will still be the very best, but if only one of them are taken into consideration, I may spend an extra $25 next year from my dirty fan hands, or in my case, charcoal from my fan art I probably just finished.